Learn how to make a faux marble countertop using epoxy resin with this detailed step-by-step tutorial and video.
Epoxy is a very versatile and fun medium to work with – you can pour it on surfaces and create patterns or mold them into shapes. There are so many possibilities!
One of the great things about epoxy is that you can add pigments to it and create colors and then mix various colors of epoxy to make gorgeous patterns!
One of them is turning it into faux marble.
That’s right! You could never tell that this isn’t real marble.
Advantages of using epoxy as marble:
- It is waterproof – making it a great choice for bathroom or kitchen counters
- It is food-contact safe. You can’t cut on it but you can definitely keep food on it. This makes it great for kitchen countertops, trays, serving boards, etc.
- It is cheaper than the real thing (by a lot!).
All of these advantages make it a great candidate for many applications:
- Give your old countertops new life
- Make a faux marble board to go in your project
- Make DIY gifts like trays and coasters
- Use as backdrops for photography.
Making faux marble epoxy is easier than you think and I have a detailed tutorial and video for you.
I needed a “marble” counter in my most recent project – the bar cabinet so it can be wipeable and waterproof. I used a piece of plywood for this.
The great thing about this is that I could make pocket holes on the back and easily integrate it into my project – something that would not have been possible with a real piece of marble.
Let’s get to making it!
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Before starting to work with epoxy, you want to make sure to take into account all the safety measures.
Safety while working with epoxy:
- Always use a respirator.
- Work in a well-ventilated area. Open up all windows and doors if working indoors.
- Use gloves to protect your hands
- Use an apron or wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
Preparing to work with epoxy
Epoxy is very sticky and sticks to almost any surface except plastic and silicone. You will want to cover any surface nearby that you don’t want to get epoxy on. Plastic drop cloths are your best bet.
- If you are working on a countertop, be sure to cover the floor and cabinets well with a plastic drop cloth and painter’s tape as the epoxy from the countertop will drip onto the floor.
- If you are adding epoxy to a piece of plywood like me, be sure to cover the work surface with a plastic drop cloth as well.
Sidenote: once you are done, it is extremely satisfying to peel off the epoxy from the plastic sheets 🙂
- Make sure that the board you are covering with epoxy is level to ensure a level and uniform coat of epoxy.
Below is a detailed video of how I made the marbled epoxy. A full written tutorial with lots more details is below.
How to make faux marble
Step 1: Prep the surface
- Clean and sand the surface.
I was reusing a board from another project which was already stained, so I used my sander to remove as much of the stain as possible. If you’re starting with a plain sheet of plywood you can totally skip this step.
There is one step that I missed, and I would highly recommend you don’t. You need to cover up the edges of the plywood to hide those layers.
- You can use edge banding or you can use a couple of coats of wood putty.
Related: How to Cover Plywood Edges
Step 2: Primer/paint
- Apply primer and paint.
The goal of the primer and paint is to create a solid color underneath the epoxy to hide the previous colors.
With the plywood, I used shellac-based primer to make sure none of the old stain seeped through. After the first coat of shellac-based primer, I used regular primer.
If you are applying this to a countertop, make sure to use a primer compatible with the material of the countertop.
- Once the primer dries, give it a quick sand with 220 grit sandpaper.
- Wipe off the dust with a soft cloth.
Note: It is not recommended to use a tack cloth as that leaves residue behind.
Step 3: Protect the bottom
It is important to protect the bottom of the board/countertop from drips from the epoxy. They can be a beast to clean up.
- Apply masking tape perfectly along the edges. This specific masking tape works really well with epoxy and is strong enough to pull off any drips.
The best way to do that is to actually have a slight overlap and then come back with a sharp knife and cut off any excess overhang.
Step 4: Mix the epoxy
It is finally time for the epoxy. You can use any tabletop formula epoxy.
- Mix the epoxy according to the instructions on the package. It is extremely important to measure and mix exactly following the instructions for the best results.
I’m using Total Boat Makerpoxy. It is a one-to-one epoxy and really straightforward to mix. I measured equal parts Part A and Part B and stirred for four minutes (per the directions)
- Once mixed, separate a little epoxy into smaller containers depending on the number of colors you want in your “marble”.
I was only going to add black, so I separated it into one container. But you can also add in a little bit of gold or silver or other colors as you please.
- Mix white pigment into the main container.
I don’t have a measurement of how much to add, I literally just eyeballed it. You want your epoxy to be opaque once it’s mixed well.
How to mix epoxy for best results –
- Mix well by occasionally scraping the sides and the bottom.
- Don’t mix too vigorously or it will introduce too many bubbles.
- Use a clean new container every time.
Step 5: Pour the base layer
This is where the fun begins.
- Pour the base layer of epoxy starting with a zigzag pattern across the surface.
- Use a spreader to spread it out evenly.
- Add more epoxy as needed for a nice even layer. Feel free to use your hands to be sure that the epoxy coats well.
You will notice that the epoxy goes where there is already epoxy so you have to move the epoxy around until the surface is covered well.
Also, be sure to cover the edges.
- Give it a couple of minutes to let all the bubbles float up to the surface, then use the heat gun to pop them all.
If you see any dust after using the heat gun, it is okay to pick them up with your fingertips because the epoxy will self-level and cure.
- Let it stand for about 10 minutes. Keep popping bubbles every few minutes as they rise.
Step 6: Add the marbling
- Mix pigment into the small container of epoxy you separated.
I mixed black pigment in mine.
- After about 10 minutes of pouring the base layer, make streaks across the epoxy using a mixing stick.
There is no right or wrong way to do this. I just poured them all in the same direction because that’s the look I was going for.
You could do a criss-cross pattern or a straight up and down – anything you want!
- Move the streaks. Use a heat gun, your fingers, or a combination of the two to create the marbled look.
- Add additional black or white epoxy to mix things up.
Repeat until you get the look you are happy with.
Honestly, this is probably the easiest and hardest part of this project. It is the easiest because it is mistake-proof. It is the hardest because you can just keep messing with it for a long time without stopping. 🙂
- Make sure to overflow it over the edges as well for continuity.
- Cover up the entire board with cardboard boxes to protect it from dust as it cures. If it’s a countertop, simply close the room to protect it from any drafts and dust flying onto it.
- Let it cure for 48 hours.
Step 7: Add the top layer
The top layer is simply a transparent layer of epoxy.
- Mix another batch of epoxy and pour a thin layer to cover the entire surface as in step 5.
Why do you need a top layer?
Epoxy in itself is nice and strong and doesn’t need another “protective” layer. You can definitely skip the top layer if you like.
However, adding a coat of clear epoxy creates a depth to the pattern that makes it look so much more real.
- Once the final layer is spread out, pop all the bubbles with the heat gun.
- Let it cure for another 48 hours.
Step 6. Remove tape
Once the epoxy marble is cured – about 48 hours (be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendation), it is time to take off the tape.
The tape should pull off easily along with the drips, but if there are a few areas that are a little stubborn, you can use a heat gun to soften the drips and they pull right off.
And this is how the epoxy marble counter turned out.
I love it! It looks so real.
I used this as the counter in my bar cabinet, but the possibilities are endless.
What will you be making out of this?